The Customer Is The Channel

The customer-centric blog of Linc Global

All Posts

Spotlight: Automated Omnichannel Shopping Assistance

Many Linc’d brands offer their customers automated assistance across channels, including help with orders, returns and other questions, and see over 70% of inquiries resolved immediately. Beyond these tier-1 inquiries, there’s a big opportunity to add additional capabilities to an automated assistant powered by Linc’s platform, and deliver services and experiences that help to differentiate a brand, and make life more convenient for customers.

Carter’s | OshKosh have been using Linc’s platform for over 3 years, recognizing that their customers, parents of young children, don’t have a minute to spare and making services more convenient helps to set them apart and keeps customers coming back and shopping with them. Having offered timely updates for some time, and more recently adding automated assistance to help customers get quick resolution to their questions, the obvious next step was to use their automated assistant to improve their customer’s experience in omnichannel shopping.

Today, customers can shop online, check out and select in-store pickup for their convenience. Using Linc’s platform, customers can receive timely updates on their order, ask questions about its status, and be alerted when it is ready for pickup. They can also get directions to the store, and ask other questions that may be top of mind.

blog02-2

 

Adding this capability was straightforward and quick, thanks to Linc’s modular platform architecture that makes it easy to add additional ‘skills’ to the automated assistant and deploy them across channels like SMS, Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With data connections made via API, and testing completed in a week, the capability was ready for customers to use soon after the initiative was started.

Providing this kind of automated assistance gives customers more convenience, and helps Carter’s differentiate their brand as being easy to shop with, focused on the customer, and always ready to help, no matter when or where. Using Linc’s platform, they added this capability to their automated services, made it easier for customers to keep up to date with their orders via SMS text and Facebook Messenger and strengthened the connection between online and offline shopping.

If you’d like to discuss adding capabilities to your automated assistant, or deploying an automated assistant across channels, then please get in touch with us today, and we’ll set up a time to get into the details.

Related Posts

New Feature Alert: Intelligent Promotion Botlet

How do you promote products without large advertising budgets and over-saturating email inboxes?  This is a common problem many marketers face when looking for new and innovative ways to promote products and services.

Turning Touchpoints into a Journey

Every interaction with your customer is important, and maximizing the effectiveness of touchpoints has been a valid business concern for some time. Research from McKinsey, however, highlights the blind spot in this kind of thinking -- true leading brands have moved from a touchpoints-focus to a focus on the holistic customer journey.

Designing a Customer Experience Strategy for Conversational Commerce

When you master conversational commerce, you’ll deliver experiences that make your customers feel as if you hired a personal assistant to help each of them.  There are several key strategies, smart brands need to think about as they go about creating their conversational commerce strategy. Don’t Forget The Data If conversational commerce is the new paradigm of customer experience, data is the engine that drives all those delightful interactions across touchpoints. Your customers are creating data every time they click, swipe, and like --it’s up to you to find it, analyze it and use it to inform customer engagement. Nordstrom, for example, uses sensors and Wi-Fi to track who comes to the store, wherein the store they shop, and how long they stay. They also incentivize their Nordstrom’s credit card and rewards program to gather data about their clients. Target is also known for its data-collecting. The mega-retailer assigns every customer a Guest ID number, which is linked to their credit card, name, or email address. This Guest ID number becomes a repository of info on a shopper’s past Target purchases and any demographic information the company has collected about them and/or bought from a third-party source. Target’s data is so accurate and fine-grained that they were even able to determine a teenage shopper was pregnant (and send her the appropriate mailer filled with baby items) long before her father ever knew. Collecting relevant data, analyzing it and using your learnings to inform which conversational channels make sense for your brand and what types of experiences your particular customers seek to have on them is the foundation of your conversational commerce efforts. Focus On The Highest-Value Activities Put your energy toward meaningful services that customers already care about. Look at service-oriented features, such as notification capability and on-demand service and support capabilities, to guide the customer journey. Don’t just focus on the “Checkout.” The main benefit of service-oriented conversational channel offerings is the ability to organically drive usage into new channels. For example, a customer might place an order on your website and learn that she can subscribe to order status updates through Facebook Messenger. What she sees as taking advantage of a perk will benefit you by encouraging her toward a channel where your chatbot can take over. ChatBots are best for organic conversations with common use cases, but also provide a sense of personalization and convenience for the shopper. Customer service should be your core use for this technology to start. Be Prepared For Bot-to-Human Handoffs The great thing about a conversation handled over text or Messenger is that the customer doesn’t have to know when they might be switching from a bot to a human. Bot design in the future will focus on what they can do, knowing what they can’t do, and designing a bridge to employee assistance that feels seamless to the customer. It’s not just the customer that will be helped by the bot, but the employee. It will provide faster information and better analytics in real time, perhaps then parsing information to pass on to the consumer. The most important aspect of innovation is convenience for the shopper. They should never have to explain their request twice. Start Simple and Grow to Brand Management You can start with bots as a single voice in the chorus of messages from your brand. The long term will have bots as representatives of your entire brand, managing relationships with your customers. You can start conversational commerce, however, with just a single entry point. You can get your customers used to interacting with you on the same channels they use to chat with their friends. You can piggyback on the culture of quick and informal communication, but be ready to meet their expectations for highly personal and meaningful results. If your bot can’t meet that expectation, your customer could walk away disappointed or annoyed. As the technology improves, and it is, even as we write this, you’ll be able to put more and more of your brand management in the hands of the bots. Authentication Giving your bot a way to confirm the customer’s identity is key to a truly intelligent communication that can leverage data from across your other channels. If this isn’t done right, your bot will see each customer as a stranger, negating the opportunity to provide personalized service. Focus On Concepts Rather Than Solutions Your customers might be on Kik today but head over to Facebook Messenger tomorrow. Focusing on the concepts of conversational commerce rather than today’s hottest medium will help you keep your sanity and provide an agile approach that can be applied to meet your customers wherever they migrate. Try not to get bogged down with the details of how to build for one particular channel, and look instead to use-cases. You can learn more about conversational commerce and engaging your customers at every touchpoint by exploring Linc’s platform and solutions pages. Or take a look at how leading brands like Lamps Plus, JustFab.com and others are using automated conversational commerce strategies in their businesses today, in our resources page.